The name ‘Wall Street’ comes from the 17th century wall which formed part of the northern wall of the New Amsterdam territory. This wall was built for the Dutch, who were then living in what they had named as ‘New Amsterdam’ to protect themselves from attack from pirates, Indians and other dangers that threatened their establishment.
The area soon came to be known as Wall Street and – created a link between the banks of the East River with the banks of the Hudson River. This trail made it into one of the busiest trading areas in the whole of the city, attracting merchants and commercial trade from all throughout the city.
While New York has one of the most famous stock exchanges in the world, the first American stock exchange was actually formed in Philadelphia in 1790. At this point The New York Merchant group had become heavily concerned about their own personal assets and values, as the consequential effects of the revolutionary war bonds were beginning to take effect. So, looking for ways in which to control their wealth, they sent an observer to Philadelphia in 1817.
Bringing back positive news of the thriving exchange in Philadelphia it wasn’t long before a similar exchange was established in New York. Initially ‘The Exchange’ met in a rented room on 40 Wall Street. Every morning President Anthony Stockholm would read a list of stock to be traded.
At this point the New York Stock Exchange was very primitive and very much the exclusive club of a few powerful gentlemen. Members had to be voted in and a candidate could very easily be ‘black-balled’ for having three negative votes against his name. Members wore top hats and dressed in swallowtail coats.
It wasn’t long before the Wall Street Exchange transferred from a one room trading club to a powerful world financial force. The start of the 20th century saw many fortunes made and lost. Several noteworthy panics occurred during this time, the first occurring in 1920. At this point both rich and poor were investing heavily in stocks, believing that no bad could ever come of such a move. For a while this was the case and by 1929 stock prices had been 400% higher than they had been previously in 1924.
However, the market couldn’t sustain itself and within a short while it crashed causing one of the largest financial catastrophes in world history. Since then Wall Street has lived through several more financial catastrophes, although the crash of 1929 will always be remembered as one of the most dramatic.
On a trip to New York City, Wall Street is a recommended destination to visit. After a day of exploring the financial district, visiting Staten Island and Ground Zero, you will begin to appreciate why this part of Manhattan is so important to New York. Cheap New York hotels nearby make it a possible area to stay in although thanks to the 24 hour subway line running throughout the city, you can stay just about anywhere and still be within easy reach of most New York destinations.